Seahawks' Kennedy, Steelers' Kirkland Cut

Posted: March 09, 2001

Defensive standouts Cortez Kennedy and Levon Kirkland are looking for work.

Both veterans were cut yesterday after long, distinguished careers with their teams.

The Seattle Seahawks released Kennedy, their eight-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle, two days before he was to receive a $2 million roster bonus.

Seattle signed free agent John Randle last week after his release by Minnesota, and Randle will take Kennedy's place on the defensive line.

Kennedy's salary was to count $7.3 million against the cap next season. He was to earn $4.5 million in the final year of his contract in Seattle, where he was the 1992 NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

"Cortez has accomplished a great deal for this franchise over the last decade," coach-general manager Mike Holmgren said. "He has always handled himself with class and been a dedicated member of the Seahawks."

Inside linebacker Kirkland, also 32, was cut by Pittsburgh in part because the Steelers needed money to sign former Lions guard Jeff Hartings to a six-year, $24.75 million contract to replace seven-time All-Pro center Dermontti Dawson.

Once the Steelers' highest-paid player, Kirkland was to have made a base salary of $4.775 million in 2001 and had a cap value of $5.745 million - or about 1/12th of the Steelers' total cap.

Kirkland indicated he probably would sign elsewhere, preferably with a team that "may be closer to the Super Bowl."

Hartings was a Pro Bowl alternate for the Lions in 1998 and 1999. The last place he played center was at Penn State.

"Even coming out of college, we thought he would make a heck of a center at one time," said Kevin Colbert, the Steelers' director of football operations, who once worked for the Lions. "When we look at the center position, we want a fast guy and a smart guy."

Hartings said the presence of running back Jerome Bettis influenced his decision to sign with Pittsburgh.

In other transactions:

* Halfback Tiki Barber became the second high-profile member of the New York Giants to re-sign with the NFC champions since free agency started, agreeing to a six-year, $24 million contract.

"I built my reputation here, and this is where I wanted to stay," said Barber, who received a $7 million signing bonus. "It's great that we got it done, and hopefully I'll be able to finish my career here."

Cornerback Jason Sehorn signed a six-year, $36 million contract last week that included a $10 million signing bonus.

Neither signing was a surprise. Both unrestricted free agents wanted to stay with the Giants and to explore other off-the-field opportunities in the area.

Barber was the catalyst of the Giants' offense last season. The fourth-year halfback set a team record with 2,089 all-purpose yards, including a career-best 1,006 yards rushing. He also caught 70 passes for 719 yards and had 364 on punt and kickoff returns.

* Patrick Surtain, who emerged as one of the NFL's best cornerbacks last year in his first full season as a starter, signed a four-year, $27.5 million extension with the Miami Dolphins.

Surtain was already under contract through 2001. The new deal, which includes a $6.25 million signing bonus, ends in 2005.

Also, the Dolphins signed Detroit center Eric Beverly to an offer sheet for a three-year contract. The Lions have until March 15 to match Miami's offer and retain Beverly, a restricted free agent.

* The Cincinnati Bengals signed quarterback Jon Kitna to a four-year contract. Kitna, who lost his starting job with Seattle last season, will compete with Akili Smith for the starting job in training camp.

* Veteran offensive tackle Earl Dotson re-signed with Green Bay.

In other news:

PATRIOTS: Innocent plea

New England Patriots offensive lineman Adrian Klemm pleaded innocent to a misdemeanor charge accusing him of damaging another motorist's windshield in a traffic dispute.

* At his arraignment in Attleboro (Mass.) District Court, Klemm was charged with malicious destruction of property valued at more than $250, according to Eddie Sirois, spokesman for the Bristol County District Attorney's office. He is scheduled to be back in court April 11, Sirois said.

Klemm, out of the University of Hawaii, was the team's top draft choice last year. *

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